Spousal Support, sometimes referred to as alimony or maintenance, is money that’s paid by one spouse to another after they separate or divorce. Its purpose is to limit any unfair effects of a divorce. For example, perhaps one spouse dedicated the majority of their time to the family (stay at home parent, part-time work, etc.) and needs more time to develop a career now that they’re on their own.
Another example – if one spouse makes a lot less money than the other spouse, Spousal Support may be used to help that spouse continue living life to the standard set during the marriage. However, a court may actually decide that the spouse with the lower income is not entitled to extra money, if they see that the income had not impacted anything during the relationship.
The amount and duration of Spousal Support is decided by either the couple or the court, and many factors are considered during the process. Some include:
- Each spouse’s financial means, assets, and positions
- The length of the marriage
- If children are involved, who is caring for them
- If children are involved, who is paying child support and will it effect other payments
- How self-sufficient the spouse receiving the support is
It’s difficult to calculate Spousal Support on your own, as you will usually need assistance from a lawyer to figure out an accurate amount. Although, through funding from the Department of Justice there is the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines, which suggest appropriate ranges of child support based on different circumstances and variables.
It’s important to note that the Spousal Support Advisory Guidelines are not set law, and are just used as guidelines by a judge in support cases. When looking at the guidelines on your own for an estimate, be mindful of important factors like entitlement, provincial and territorial laws, and tax considerations.
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